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I have made up (1) below.

(1) Players who score at least eighty goals in a season will win a gold medal. Over the past five seasons, Jack has scored no more than seventy goals per season. However, in the current season, he scored his eightieth goal last month, which has qualified him for an award.

Some of my friends think I should change "past" to "previous" and use the simple past instead of the present perfect in second sentence. The changes are given in (2) below.

(2) Players who score at least eighty goals in a season will win a gold medal. Over the previous five seasons, Jack scored no more than seventy goals per season. However, in the current season, he scored his eightieth goal last month, which has qualified him for an award.

This is my friends' reason to explain why I need to make the two changes. "Over the previous five seasons" excludes the current season. So, that makes it clear that you are talking about Jack reaching the 80th goal mark this season.

I don't agree with them because "Over the past five seasons" is more commonly used than "Over the previous...." Regarding "Over the past five seasons", I'm using the present perfect to indicate his 70 goal tallies from a point five years ago up to a certain point in the current season. The simple past I'm using to say "... the current season, he scored his 80th goal..." shows that he has just reached his mark this season.

Which word do you think is correct in this context: past or previous?

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I agree with you that over the past is the better choice in this context. The past seasons exclude the current season by definition because the current season isn't over.

When you talk about past seasons you are taking the present season as your starting point. The past seasons are the seasons that precede the current season.

When you talk about the previous seasons, the question that arises is previous to what? They are not necessarily the seasons that precede the current season, they can be the seasons that precede any point in time - although in context they are understood to precede the current season.

In short, stick to past.

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  • I like the details of your explanation. They are very clear and understandable. I'm glad you agree with me. Thank you very much for your time and help. Once again, a fantastic explanation.
    – user45235
    Feb 5, 2020 at 6:36

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